We're discovering the unknown in venom
"This treatment is desperately needed. Stroke is the second most common cause of death in the world, with one death occurring every five seconds. We believe we have found a treatment that will greatly minimise the brain damage caused by stroke. This venom-derived protein has the potential to completely change the management of stroke and not only save lives but transform the quality of life for survivors."
– Professor Glenn King
If you think of venom, you probably think of a substance designed to kill. But our researchers at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience see something different – a treasure trove of molecules that can be harnessed to save lives.
We house one of the largest libraries of venoms you’ll find anywhere – representing 650 species worldwide including funnel-web spiders, desert spiders, snakes, scorpions, bull ants, assassin bugs, centipedes, lizards, bees, fish, beetles, cone snails – we’ve collected anything that stings, stabs or bites!
Our scientists screen these venom samples to locate molecules known as peptides with specific effects on the nervous system of vertebrates or insects.
We’re using peptides that affect vertebrates to learn more about our own nervous system, and translate these peptides into more effective therapeutics for neurological disorders such as stroke, and chronic pain through our Centre for Pain Research.
Peptides that act on the nervous system of insects can be used as an eco-friendly alternative to toxic chemical-based insecticides that are poisoning our fertile soil and wildlife pollinators.
So, armed with some of the deadliest venoms known to exist, we’re partnering with pharmaceutical companies to progress new drugs for stroke, chronic pain, epilepsy and cardiac arrhythmia to clinical trial.
We’re also working with agricultural organisations to develop ecologically friendly insecticides that target pest species without killing important pollinators such as bees.
With the discoveries we’re making, the deadly reign of conditions such as pain and stroke over the human body could come to an end, and venom-inspired insecticides could safeguard agricultural health into the future.